'How's Hot Gym Boy?' Why Girls Make Up Names for the Guys They Date

Refusing to tell your friends a guy's real name lessens the sting if he never calls back.


It's the norm to over-share. My friends and I are guilty of this. We divulge every serious and petty aspect of our dating lives, but there's one detail that we are shy about sharing: the names of those we are speaking about. We hold back our excitement, manage our expectations, and heed with caution—all by referring to those we're seeing as anything but their given names. As soon as we begin to tell a story about a date we had, or someone we've just met the first question is: "Wait, what should we call him?"

Sometimes the nicknames are creative: The Crusader (super religious with a wild side in the bed), HGB (short for Hot Gym Boy), and The Meatball (round, stubby, and Italian). One woman told me, "one of my favorites is the guy my friend is dating now—he was formerly a bit of a slut, so we call him TRW, for The Repentant Whore." Then there's the self-explanatory: Hot Hat-Wearing Balding Guy, or Formerly Fat Chris. And the more generic ones that still serve their purpose: The Writer, The Brit, The Professor, SoCal. As time goes by, and there's more than one guy who could be described by a particular nickname, we feel the need to affix new descriptors for clarification purposes (i.e. The Brit Without the Maniacal Laugh). Some even have formulas for nicknames, such as taking their real first name and adding the bar or location in which they met as their last name.

One friend of mine, we'll call her Janie, met a very eligible bachelor at the Stumble Inn, an Upper-East Side sports bar. They exchanged numbers. With little to go off after meeting someone briefly in a bar during the wee hours of the morning, granting him a nickname wasn't the easiest of tasks. Thus, "The Stumbler" was born, after the name of the bar we were at that night.

Janie and The Stumbler went on several promising dates, including dinner and drinks, a key factor in determining where a relationship is heading. But after several more dates Janie was still referring to him as his nickname, refusing to let her guard down and legitimize their relationship on any level.

Next thing you know, The Stumbler started, well, stumbling. First he was having problems with his phone, then he was traveling for work, then more problems with his phone (oh, get a new one already!). At first Janie questioned his behavior. "Is he ghosting me??" she asked. ("Ghosting" is the term for those who abruptly disappear without a trace. It's a sudden end in communication that is unforeseen—and almost always unwarranted. Three great dates and you think you've established some sort of connection and you'd like to continue seeing the person when suddenly, an "I'll see you this week!" turns into never hearing from the person again. When you text or call them to make sure they weren't just waiting for you to reach out, and get no response. No texts, no calls, nothing.)

Presented by

Sara Ashley O'Brien

Sara Ashley O'Brien is a freelance writer based in New York City.  Her work often appears in the New York Post's Business section.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus


Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.


Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.


Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise


A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.


Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in The Sexes

Just In